What Happened to the Chiclet Keyboard?
Speaking of Apple inspiration, I really liked the chiclet keyboard on the Asus Eee PC 1000HE. It made for a very comfortable and reasonably quiet typing experience, especially since the keyboard is nearly full-size as well. And it looked great too.
That’s why I’m quite disappointed that Asus decided to take a different route with the Eee PC 1005HA Seashell. Instead of a chiclet, it almost reminds me of the older keyboards you may find on some ThinkPads. It’s quite “clacky” and noisy, not giving the same kind of “soft” experience as the chiclet keyboard.
On the plus side, the right shift key is now the size that it should be. To accommodate this change, the up and down arrow keys have been compressed to fit into the space for a single key. That’s a small sacrifice to make for an overall better typing experience. Too bad it’s so clacky and cheap-feeling.
That’s One Bumpy Trackpad
The tapered profile and keyboard aren’t the only things to see changes for this iteration in the Eee PC line. Rather than having a trackpad made from a completely different material, the trackpad on this netbook has been integrated with the wrist rest surface. But it “sticks out” too, so to speak.
It doesn’t have a silky smooth surface like what you’d expect from all trackpads. Instead, it has a bumpy texture to it. I guess the idea is that this will provide added grip and help it stick out from the rest of the wrist rest area, but I found this added texture to be more of a nuisance than an advantage. I want to glide my finger across the surface, not have its movement impeded with countless little speedbumps.
The trackpad still offers the same multi-touch interface as we saw with the more recent versions of the Eee PC, so you can do things like scrolling and pinching to zoom. That’s good, but I’m not a fan of this textured trackpad at all.
And the Same Old 10-inch Display
I can’t complain about the overall build quality of this Eee PC, aside from the unfortunate choice for the keyboard and trackpad as described above. The hinge is super solid and I like how it sort of glides the display behind the lower portion of the netbook. The ports are relatively well-placed, but it would have been nice to see a video output option beyond the standard VGA. No DVI love for netbooks?
Since this is supposed to be a follow-up to the earlier Eee PCs, I expected this Seashell netbook to offer improved specs. In particular, I would have really liked to see a higher resolution display, since some other companies are offering similar products with WXGA (1280×768) displays these days.
Viewing the Futurelooks website on this Eee, I am able to see the entire website without any horizontal scrolling in Internet Explorer. However, as you can see, not much of the vertical content is available at just a total height of 600 pixels. With all that precious real estate gobbled up with the taskbar and toolbars, your web surfing experience may suffer.